Bradley Wiggins believes people should not judge Lance Armstrong too harshly, saying he too might have been tempted to dope had it not been for British Cycling.
The 41-year-old was named by the United States Anti-Doping Agency this week as being a central figure in a major doping scheme by the US Postal team and has been stripped of his seven Tour de France titles.
Many have been quick to condemn the Texan, but Wiggins told the Daily Telegraph: "It's not about Armstrong, it's about the culture of the sport for so many years. People like Michael Barry, I can relate to that, I turned pro 10 years ago, and how it felt going in aged 22, with the peer pressure with the likes of Lance Armstrong in a team like US Postal where it was systematic."
He went on: "You stand by the decisions you make then for the rest of your life, David Millar was the same.
"You shouldn't persecute people forever, we're not talking about Jimmy Savile here.
"But those decisions stay with you for your whole career and I was very fortunate that I was in a system in British Cycling that, regardless of what team I was in, they supported me with the right way to deal with it. They probably saved me otherwise it might have been me, who knows. The peer pressure was huge. But the culture has changed."
Armstrong's lawyers have described the USADA report as a farce, but Wiggins has little sympathy for a man who he always suspected of cheating.
"It is certainly not a one-sided hatchet job, it is pretty damning," he told Sky News. "I am shocked at the scale of the evidence.
"I have been involved in pro cycling for a long time and now I realise what it takes to train and win the Tour de France.
"I'm not surprised by it...I had a good idea what is going on."